On Saturday the sixth of August 2011, I began a trip 25 years in the waiting. It is a journey that I have dreamed of doing since I was a child. I'm off to South America, specifically Peru & Bolivia with a relax at the end in Buenos Aires. To say I'm excited would be an understatement.

This journey began for me in 1985 when I lived in Port Lincoln. It was a beautiful summers day, the sun a rich golden warmth that eradicated the edge that lingers in people after Christmas and New Years. Children were everywhere frolicking along the foreshore and through the waters, jumping from the Jetty and enjoying all that could be from the day. The morning drew to afternoon and my sister and her friends started to wander further than my mother wanted them to. She sent me to bring them back closer to her view.

I stepped into the blue water lapping the shore, took a few steps into the pitiful surf, and fell. Electricity shot through my body, screamed into my skull, nerves became alive like never before. I yelled, but not understanding the pain, thinking it was probably just a stubbed toe, I reached into the water and pulled my foot free and into the air. My mind went white, my voice pierced the golden joy of summer, the water darkened, staining with the rich blood pouring forth from my foot, opened like a baguette.

During my stay at the hospital where they repaired my foot as best they can, I received a gift from my Grandmother. It was a calendar with pictures of places around the world. In the calendar I found two that I had to see – The Pyramids of Giza and Macchu Pichu. I have carried a picture of Macchu Pichu with me since then, and finally on the 21st of August 2011, I will be there after having hiked through the Andes for the previous three days.

Below are the entries for the Peruvian leg of this trip.

Peruvian Food

PeruFood-fish1In Australia, we are pretty spoiled when it comes to food. Being a nation founded on immigration, each group of people that has come to our shores has brought their fruits and vegetables, spices and herbs, and their recipes. It means that on any given day you can go to the markets and pick up all the ingredients required to make almost any meal. 

PeruFood-main2One of the things I love about visiting a new country is trying all the food. Just because we have such variety at home doesn't mean we have it all. In fact, if you go to restaurant you'll often get an Australianised version of a traditional dish, so the only way to get the real thing is to eat it in country. I've never seen a Peruvian restaurant in Adelaide, so I was really interested to see what I could find.

Peru is home to some really interesting tastes, but in order to appreciate it, you need a little background information first.

 PeruFood-main4Peru is the home of the potato, that remarkable staple of the global diet. There are 200 native varieties of potato and with domestication and experimentation there are now of 3000 varieties available to the world. Corn is also a staple, having been introduced centuries ago, and available in varieties I didn't even know existed. Here golden corn, that ever so lovely an juicy cob favoured in Australia is animal feed. The Peruvians prefer to eat the white corn which grows to massive proportions with kernals as big as 1-2cms. The flavour is a little different to the golden corn, not quite as sweet. They also brew a drink with the black corn which is very tasty. 

As for meat, the Peruvians are and agrarian society so they don't waste anything. Every muscle and organ is used, sometimes rather inventively. The primary animals for meat is: Cows, Bulls, Sheep, Alpaca, Lamb, Chicken, Pig, and Guinea Pig.


For grains, they have Quinoa (an excellent protein), Amaranth, Wheat, Oats, etcetera, then a range of nuts, and all the herbs you could ask for although the popular ones seem to be peppers, basil, oregano, mint, and salt. And a range of tropical fruits that are as varied in range as they are in taste.

Oh, and one more thing, Peruvians like their food hot. Every restaurant table has pot of hot sauce which varies in flavour and heat depending on the restaurant. 

PeruFood-main3The traditional diet (as told to me by my guide here in Peru) is:

Breakfast – Bread and Milk

Lunch – Soup followed by a dish of meat, vegetables and rice

Dinner – Small meal of vegetables and rice, usually leftovers 

So now that you've had your brief introduction, how about I tell you about some of the amazing, exceptional and strange flavours I have encountered in my travels?


PeruFood-finalentreePeruFood-main5Alpaca, is a gamey meat, not dissimilar to goat but drier on the palate. In Peru, Alpaca is widely available and in a variety of dishes. I have tried is as a straight fried fillet, in a range of marinades, and on pizza. For the most part it is a beautiful tasting meat, so long as it not overcooked, which unfortunately is something the Peruvians like to do. It's very hard to get a rare-medium cooked meat. It's all medium well to well done.



Ceviche, is Peru's national dish and it is raw fish. Well, they say it's raw fish, but it's not really. It is cured fish. The best fish is white and from the ocean. I tried this in Nazca prior to a night bus across the country, so if something went wrong after this dish I would have been pretty uncomfortable. As it is, nothing went wrong, and the dish was delicious. The ceviche came served with a mushrooms, shredded roast chicken, lettuce, with a lemon juice and chilli dressing. The flavour was tart but delicate and had my mouth salivating. There is a reason hat this is the national dish, when done right, it is exquisite. My advice, only have it when in a town near the ocean, that way the fish is freshest.

Chicha, is fermented corn and is quite possibly one of the cheapest alcohols I've ever come across. 1 pint cost me 0.50 Sols which equates to around AU0.20. The alcohol content varies from place to place the same as the quality. Why would this not be standardised? Well, it's all backyard still. You walk around towns such as Ollantaytambo you look out for a red flag on a pole hanging over a backdoor and you find the bar. Traditionally, before your first sip, you splash some onto the earth as an offering to Pacha Mamma. I've had four Chichas now, and each has been diferent. One tasted like Gruppa, another like Vodka, one was sweet and the last was sour. It is well worth the experience of trying it, but on't jut go wandering into a persons home, use a local guide to get you in as you don't want to offend and I'm sure the guides Quechua will be better than yours.

Chicha Morada, is the juice of the purple or black corn. It is found in restaurants and is an alternative to juice or sot drink. It is a refreshing beverage with a rich flavour and is quite filling.

Chicha Frutilad, is another chicha drink bu this time mixed with strawberry. It's not as refreshing as Morada but is very satisfying and filling. The chcicha is subtle against the fruit, adding a spicey tone, complemented by a sprinkling of cinnamon. A half litre cost me 1.50 Sols.


Ubre Apanada, is apparently a local delicacy in Cuzco. It is a deep fried Cow Udder served with roast potatoes, rice, and sliced tomato. It has a texture like pork fat, and looks like crackling. It even tastes like fat. To eat this dish, you need to add the spicy sauce. The one on offer with this dish was a pesto style sauce – basil, peanuts, chilli, parsley, all blended and kept very thin opposed to the thick pestos of home.

PeruFood-finalmain2PeruFood-finalmain1Cuy (Guinea Pig), is dry and tasty. The taste is very similar to that of rabbit, and it is quite lean. The skin cooks up like crackling. It is quite small and very fiddly similar to eating quail, and you must use your hands to eat it. The knife and fork is considered an insult with this dish. Sometimes when it is served, it is a whole Guinea Pig, other times it is quartered and served without the head, or with the head. If you receive the head on your plate, you must eat the flesh, eyes and brain which can be quite off-putting to your dining guests. There are many ways to prepare Cuy, but the way I had it on my last night in Peru was the best – Roasted.


Other Peru Articles:

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